Photo by Brian Paglia / Ola junior Savannah McHellon has helped the Lady Mustangs overcome the loss of six seniors to stay among the favorites to win a state title. “I try my best to help and be a good leader,” she said.
McDONOUGH — When Savannah McHellon was in middle school, she had a different softball season than her friends on the Georgia Academy travel team. They had a middle school team to play for. McHellon didn’t.
That was a major distinction between McHellon’s time in Clayton County and now at Ola, where the junior is an ace pitcher and clean-up hitter for a Lady Mustangs team ranked No. 7 in Class AAAAA that’s coming off a third-place finish in Class AAAA last season.
McHellon burst onto the scene as a freshman at Mundy’s Mill. She hit an astounding .763, was named Region 4-AAAA Player of the Year and led the Lady Tigers to a region title and state tournament appearance.
But it was clear Clayton County couldn’t hold McHellon’s talent. So it was off to Ola, to Henry County softball, to a bigger challenge.
McHellon hasn’t looked back.
“I love it over here,” McHellon said. “I wouldn’t change a thing.”
As a sophomore, McHellon joined a team filled with experience and expectations. The infield was full of seniors who all eventually signed softball scholarships to play in college.
McHellon expected the adjustment would be challenging, but recognized the opportunity.
“I was expecting all the girls to be top-notch,” McHellon said. “I was thinking, ‘How do I compete with these girls?’ I liked it a lot.
“It was a major difference. It was more disciplined and serious. Every game was a good game. It’s a great place to get better and get ready for the next level.”
McHellon fit right in. Already with two varsity-caliber pitchers, Ola coach Gidget Gue made it a three-pitcher rotation the Lady Mustangs became a true state title contender.
Despite the loss of six seniors, Ola is still on the short list of contenders this season. Even with a completely re-tooled infield that includes freshmen at shortstop and second base. Even in Region 4-AAAAA, which includes five teams ranked in the top 10.
Ola remains dangerous partly because of the tradition its established in such a short history, but also because of McHellon’s presence on the mound and in the lineup. McHellon and sophomore Raya Moncus alternate pitching with remarkable consistency.
On Monday, Moncus got the win in Ola’s 4-0 victory over No. 10 Starr’s Mill.
McHellon got the win Tuesday over then-No. 2 Whitewater.
“It’s great to have two pitchers,” Gue said.
And when McHellon’s not pitching, she contributes right in the heart of a lineup that’s sickening to opponents.
The 3-4-5 of Haylee Hester, McHellon and her best-friend, catcher and travel ball teammate Jurie Joyner caused problems for Woodland on Wednesday in Ola’s 10-6 regular season finale victory. The trio combined to go 6-for-10 with two home runs, five RBIs and six runs scored. McHellon alone went 3-for-4 with a three-run home run and just missed hitting for the cycle by a single.
“She’s been a great addition to our program,” Gue said. “She’s brought power hitting, leadership, pitching. Her strength and power is unbelievable.”
But McHellon just wants to play good softball.
“I try my best to help and be a good leader,” McHellon said.